The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals (Third Circuit) recently held that evidence of parallel price increases and other circumstantial evidence was insufficient to show a price-fixing conspiracy, but rather indicated legal “conscious parallelism” by competitors. In Valspar Corp. v. E. I. Du Pont De Nemours & Co., No. 16-1345, the court ruled that evidence of parallel price increases in oligopolistic markets is insufficient on its own to establish a price-fixing conspiracy.
Key takeaways from the case:
- Price-fixing plaintiffs relying on circumstantial evidence in oligopolistic markets face a high standard in the Third Circuit.
- Antitrust price-fixing cases are highly fact-dependent, and civil plaintiffs may still bring cases based solely on circumstantial evidence, including private correspondence and public announcements.
- The success of ambiguous evidence in a price-fixing case involving an oligopolistic market may depend upon where the case is located. In a related case in another circuit on the same set of facts the court denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
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